When Facebook first started, way before I had kids, it was a way to catch up with old friends, let the world know what you were doing, share photos and “poke” people, virtually. It’ll be TEN YEARS AGO this year that I joined Facebook (I know, right?) and in that time, the things I use Facebook for has changed quite dramatically. I think the thing I spend the most time doing on FB now is using groups and I’m in various ones, some for diet and fitness, some for make up and fashion, lots of buying and selling and a couple for parenting, and it’s in that last group where I hear my pet-hate-phrase.
There are lots of different questions to which “it never did my kids any harm” gets trotted out as a standard response, everything from smacking to cot bumpers to sugary drinks to watching Mister Tumble and I really wish it would be stricken from the English vernacular. I think I see it used most often in relation to controlled crying, something to which I’m hugely opposed and I just wish people would see how damaging this kind of ‘echo chamber’ response is.
I get that everyone makes different choices and that’s entirely up to them. It’s also good for everyone to have support and camaraderie, especially when it comes to parenting as it’s a lonely old job at times. However, using your own experience to bias someone else’s choices is SO wrong.
The reason things change as generations move on is because of research and development. We advise against cot bumpers and sleeping in certain positions and sleeping in car seats for extended periods and all of these other things because of years and years of extensive research, NOT because someone, somewhere said “Well, my friend Janet fed her kids lead paint and THEY ALL TURNED OUT OKAY”.
THAT’S NOT HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS.
I appreciate that there’s a lot of inherited wisdom which is passed from generation to generation, and generally speaking those things are fine, but basing your opinion of a whole facet of parenting on the equivalent of ONE case study is absolutely bonkers. Would you trust a medicine which had been tested by one person? Or drive a car which had only one safety test done on it? No, I don’t think you would.
If we’re being realistic, there are SO many things that older generations did (giving the baby brandy or whisky in their bottle to help it sleep? Giving it a sniff of the gas tap?! Leaving them outside the shops OR EVEN THE PUB in their buggy??!) that you absolutely would never dream of in this day and age.
The fact is, the reason that rules and regulations change is because people spend time and money working things out in a lab, with finely tweaked variables and control tests and all of those other things that we’re supposed to trust. They produce QUANTIFIABLE results. You can say “smacking my kids didn’t do them any harm”, but on what are you basing that? The fact that they aren’t on top of a bell tower with a high-powered rifle? Because, believe me, when it comes to the psychological effects that spill over from childhood there’s still a VAST space between “fine” and “bell tower” and they aren’t all kittens and roses.
The trouble is, people don’t seem to want to listen to quantifiable evidence when they’re of the “never did any harm” school of thought. MY argument against controlled crying comes from reams and reams of research which was done with kids living in orphanages – children who were left to cry for hours on end eventually stopped expecting comfort and therefore stopped asking for it, leading to an inability to effectively produce cortisol in later life, affecting future relationships and greatly increasing the likelihood of depression into adulthood. But if you bring this up, people latch on to the supposed absurdity of comparing their child to an orphan to poo-poo any sort of data. What you’re saying doesn’t reflect their opinion and therefore it MUST be crap.
I’m not advocating the judgement of other people’s methods as such, I just really wish people would think a little beyond this attitude and realise that things move on FOR A REASON. I swear, half the time people use this phrase as a way to make them feel better about their own doubts about methods they used, or as a defence of their own parents because they see criticism of old methods as some sort of accusation of failure.
What do you think? Are you of this school of thought or do you try to follow current advice and research? Is this something which drives you potty, too? Leave me a comment below.